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Brain Twisters

Brain Twisters (1991) Movie Poster
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USA  •    •  91m  •    •  Directed by: Jerry Sangiuliano.  •  Starring: Farrah Forke, Terry Londeree, Joe Lombardo, Donna Bostany, Elle Thompson, Shura McComb, Heather Ann Barclay, Robert T. Hughes, Bill Hilkert Jr., Charles Lopresto, Michael Warholic, Mitch Kornfeld, Gene Malone.  •  Music by: Larry Gelb.
       A pretty coed and a number of her fellow students participate in one of their college professor's experiments. These experiments are intended measure the brain's reaction when stimulated by patterns of color and light in the hopes of creating a better video game experience. Unfortunately, the test subjects begin to have nasty side effects, including turning the victims into murderers when affected by similar light waves outside the laboratory.

Review:

Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
Image from: Brain Twisters (1991)
I put off watching this flick for a long time due to the glut of scathing reviews available online, but finally doing so served as a great reminder not to believe everything on the internet. Brain Twisters is surely a middle of the road offering, but an engaging concept and some creative visual flourishes elevate it slightly ahead of the pack, and the net result justifies its 90-minute investment.

Many of the vilifications I read were centered around the film's dearth of graphic violence or nudity, the expectations for which are likely a product of this outing being most readily accessible as part of various b-movie multipacks put out by companies like Mill Creek. Fair enough-anyone sitting down for Brain Twisters expecting a bounty of grindhouse trappings is bound to be disappointed. However, this is simply not that kind of film. The tone and production values here are more in line with the brand of fare that was being cranked out for original movies on the USA Network in the early '90s, and it's easy to imagine this project was originally slated for a similar arena but received a promotion to direct-to-video status when it turned out better than average. While it's true Brain Twisters rarely dips its toes beyond PG-13 territory, skewering a movie for not infusing exploitation elements into a story that doesn't necessarily call for them and works well enough on its own terms seems a bit short-sighted to me. I have hundreds of films in my library that feature explicit gore and nudity, and I have hundreds more that do not--this just happens to one of the latter, which I don't consider a knock against it.

Although a number of the most unfair criticisms I read blasted the acting, everyone involved actually does a decent job with the material, especially considering the caliber of actors available for a modest production like this. There's even some choice dialogue and interplay between Terry Londeree's surprisingly nuanced evil scientist Rothman and Joe Lombardo's everyman hero cop which reveals that whoever wrote this thing rubbed a few braincells together while doing it. Very few of the cast members graduated to substantial bodies of work, but their characters are fairly well fleshed out and anyone who's invested any time in the world of craptastic cinema showcased in budget DVD collections like the ones you're likely to find Brain Twisters on has definitely seen worse thespianism than this.

The film is dry at times, yet while the computer graphics involved in the titular malevolent experiments are now dated, they're still impressive and disorienting enough to make the lofty concept fly. Subsequent parallels like a well-crafted scene in a drive thru car wash and shimmering soap bubbles in a bathtub serve as novel augmentations to the technological imagery in the tale, and since these callbacks are used as triggers for the film's unsuspecting test subject victims, the central concept ends up unfolding with plausible panache.

Brain Twisters isn't the best hidden gem you'll find in the genre's public domain ether-it probably isn't even the best movie about cabalistic brainwashing computer developers in that field. Nevertheless, any cries of "worst movie ever" are at the very least hyperbolic (you don't need to look any further than the flick that shares the same disc with Brain Twisters in the Mill Creek set I viewed it from to find a movie approximately 80 times dumber), if not the myopic ramblings of disgruntled viewers who clearly haven't watched enough truly awful films to render an informed opinion. I have willingly subjected myself to more unwatchable movies than my sanity will allow me to admit, and this solid thriller that features a nifty score, a passable measure of suspense, and a flawed but interesting idea does not belong anywhere near that category.

Watch it for what it is and enjoy the humble payoff. Or you can grumble about there not being enough slit throats and copulation throughout, but that's a waste of time... if Brain Twisters is in your vicinity, chances are you have between 49 and 199 other movies in the same box set that might better suit your needs.


Review by happyendingrocks from the Internet Movie Database.